If ever there was one FPS series in recent memory that could be characterised as one undergoing an identity crisis, it’d be Insomniac’s Resistance series. While the first one served as a military shooter launch title intended to prove the power of the PlayStation 3, the franchise rounded itself out with two further sequels.
Resistance 2 that upped the bombast by showing the alien invasion on a global scale, and Resistance 3 which stripped-things back to portray the plight at a human level. It’s this third game that revolutionised the kinds of story-telling possible in a First-Person Shooter, successfully asking players to thing in the same way that Irrational’s Bioshock had done just a few years earlier.
For those unaware, Resistance 3 arrived at the tail-end of the PS3’s lifecycle, casting you as new protagonist Joseph Cappelli, a mon looking to do right for his family as humanity stands at the brink of extinction because of the continuing Chimeran invasion. As far as heroes go, Cappelli couldn’t be further from the ‘rough and tough’ meatheads which fronted other games circa 2011, and this is part of what makes Resistance 3 so unique.
From the very beginning the game makes it clear that this is a war you won’t easily win, nor are even likely to. It’s only with the arrival of Resistance 2’s Dr Maliikov that a flicker of hope starts to shine, and it isn’t long before the addicting loop of mowing down enemies begins. The world around has gone to crap, yes, but that doesn’t mean that the game isn’t a blast to play.
Insomniac have always been good about being inventive with the weapons they let players unload with in their games, being a studio staple first introduced in the original Ratchet and Clank. The first Resistance proved their ability to deal with lofty themes narratively while still being creative with attack modes, a sentiment made believable due to the surrounding alien invasion.
The staple weapon of the series, returning in Resistance 3, is unabashedly the bullseye. What could have just been a standard laser-based assault rifle pulled from every other Sci-Fi shooter out there is suddenly made more cool, thanks to its secondary fire function that lets you tag enemies to make them shootable around corners. The Auger, which allowed you to shoot enemies through walls was also a Resistance highlight, with all these weapons coming together to help give Cappelli’s actions in battle more meaning.
In many ways, Resistance 3 pipped Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us to the post, in terms of giving players a satisfying road trip through a ravaged America that is no longer the version they know. Cappelli’s story of survival and hope also shares much in common with that of Joel and Ellie’s but I would argue in a fashion that is far more successful and fun from a gameplay perspective.
The Last of Us isn’t meant to feel ‘fun’, so this is okay. But whereas that game’s story could possibly be better depicted as a book or movie, Resistance 3’s is one that could only be experienced through an interactive medium. An underappreciated modern classic indeed.